Wednesday, May 16, 2012


date: Wed, 15 Mar 2000 09:18:20 -0500
subject: Re: Surface Temperatures and Solar Activity
to: Jacques Beckers <>

(See attached file: CARDS_58_98.doc)

Jim, Phil: I will be retiring June 3 .. gonna take a summer off for the
1st time in adulthood. As a parting shot (tho I may get back in the fray a
bit if my old understudy Tom Karl needs some help), I ran off a few
graphics on unadjusted CARDS data ... attached. Already sent them to Dave
Parker. They are quite interesting, I think. And 100% independent of
either LATs or SSTs.

home email:

Jacques: You asked:
(i) What is the cause of the, in my mind, peculiar annual variation in
global surface temperature (item 9 above)?
It is (as you suggest) mainly the asymmetry of the land masses (more
seasonal, more in NH) and oceans (less seasonal, more in SH) that induces
the seasonal cycle in global surface temperatures.

(ii) Has anyone else to your knowledge looked into similar relations
between solar activity and global surface temperatures?
Yes ... in fact this was the reason that we (NCDC) originally keypunched
the World Weather Records data into punched cards in the early 1970s, tho
the applications of the data have been far wider. The work was done by a
group I headed at the time. The effort was funded by a personal grant of
about $27,000 from science patron John Wolbach (affiliated with the Harvard
Observatory). Since that time a great deal of work has been done on solar
influences on global surface temperature, and the topic will be considered
by the IPCC again I am sure. I believe it is now assumed that at least a
portion of the global surface temperature variation is attributable to
solar influences. To invert your argument somewhat, there is excess
warming over and above the delta T of 1.9*ln(C/Co) that one would derive
based only on CO2 concentration increasing from Co to C (Shine et al, 1990,
Climate Change: The IPCC Scientific Assessment), and a portion of this is
likely solar.

(iii) what other mechanisms are being proposed to explain the global
surface warming since 1880?
Natural variability, feedbacks (particularly water vapor), aerosol
pollution, oceanic circulation changes (natural and otherwise) are among
several wild cards. IPCC is the global arbiter on these matters.

(iv) Where do I find the best description related to the matters discussed
IPCC documents, for openers. But a literature search would also be of
value, including the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters, and journals
with Climate in the title.

Note: You have said:" ... 1.5% increase in global surface temperature in
January or about 4 C."
This is not an apt characterization of temperature change for most
discussions (tho it is OK when characterizing a segment of a range, which
is what I assumed you meant).

Robert G. Quayle
Chief, Climate Data Division
National Climatic Data Center
151 Patton Ave.
Asheville, NC 28801-5001 USA

Voice: 828-271-4245
Fax: 828-271-4328 (or 4246)

Jacques Beckers <> on 03/14/2000 06:57:55 PM

To: Rob Quayle/NCDC


Subject: Surface Temperatures and Solar Activity

Dear Robert Quayle,

I am an astrophysicist working at the National Solar Observatory division
at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico.

The reason I am writing you relates to an article I saw in the NY Times a
few weeks ago about a NRC Committee study on "Reconciling Observations of
Global Temperature Change". I was fascinated with the apparent quality,
over an extended period of time, of the land and ocean surface temperature
observations and the question naturally arose in my mind whether they may
contain the signature of the solar "constant" variations which we now know
to exist. These luminosity changes amount to about 0.1% (lowest at solar
minimum) and are closely related to the solar activity cycle.

So I read the report of the NRC study, specifically chapter 6 on Surface
Temperature Observations, read your paper in Geophysical Research Letters
(volume 26, 333, 1999) to which it referred, and looked up your 1880 - 1999
data base on annual land surface (LAT) and ocean surface (SST) temperatures
on the NCDC/NOAA web site. I then did a comparative analysis of these data
with the solar activity record, using the Wolf sunspot number R as the
activity measure. In this e-mail I summarize the results, and my request to
you is to give me your reaction and to answer a number of questions which
arose in my mind.

I undertook the following steps in the manipulation of the sunspot and
surface temperature data:

(1) I took a running mean over 11 years. This removes quite effectively the
11 year sunspot cycle variation and showed the long term variation of solar
activity. It smoothed of course the surface temperature measurements.

These running means shows of course the gradual increase in LAT and SST
over time with a plateau, or slight decrease, from1940 to 1975 referred to
in your studies and in the NRC report. The running mean of R shows a
similar behavior: a gradual increase over the 1880 - 1999 period except for
a decrease from 1955 to 1970. The correlation over this period between
LAT/SST and R is 75%/87% respectively. Even though this is very high, I am
reluctant to conclude that the two are coupled. The result could be due to
long term trends in two otherwise unrelated properties.

(2) Two items may indicate, however, that there may be something to this
long-term correlation: (i) the plateau/decrease in all quantities around
the 1960's already mentioned, and (ii) the extrapolation of the relation to
zero sunspot numbers which results in a temperature decrease of 0.7 C with
respect to today's average surface temperature. One is reminded here of the
Maunder Sunspot minimum (no sunspots)/Little Ice Age situation around 1600
when the estimated northern hemisphere temperature was 1 to 1. 5 degrees
lower than today. That is two times as much, but then the time scale
involved is much longer.

(3) If one assumes the long-term correlation to be physically real, the
question arises : Is there evidence of any other source of recent global
heating since 1980? Removal of (the questionable) solar activity related
term results in +0.40 +/- 0.16 C and +0.17 +/- 0.08 C for the LAT and SST
respectively as compared to anomalies of +0.56 C and +0.29 C respectively
from the NCDC/NOAA data (11 year running average centered on 1993). The
evidence for remaining source(s) of surface heating therefore remain.

(4) Then I subtracted the 11 year running mean from all data and looked
for solar cycle related effects.

(5) Both LAT and SST showed a positive correlation with the R values. That
is the case for a zero time lag, but the correlation is largest when the R
data are delayed by 1.55 years (1.3 years for LAT, 1.8 years for SST). The
correlation is small: 9%/10% for LAT/SST. I have the impression , however
that it is real from looking at subsets of the data.

(6) Also the fact that there is this 1.55 year delay appears to agree with
the 1.55 +/- 0.21 year at which the peak of the solar sunspot number
precedes the middle of the solar activity cycle as defined by the activity
minima (the sunspot number is highly skewed). From the limited amount of
data we have (started in 1980) there is evidence that the solar "constant"
cycle is centered on the solar activity minima.

(7) If the solar cycle variation is real, the slope is such that a R cycle
amplitude of 150 (as has been the case for recent solar cycle for which we
have solar "constant" data) results in temperature amplitudes of 0.042
C/0.023C for LAT/SST respectively with lowest temperatures occurring at
solar minimum.

(8) Given a simple model of constant Earth albedo and emissivity and no
other geophysical effects a (visible light) radiative energy in = (IR)
radiative energy out would give for a 0.1% variation in the solar constant
a 0.025% change in the Earth' temperature, or about 0.07 C, equal in sign
and not too different from the values inferred under (7).

(9) Encouraged by that I decided to examine the annual variations in LAT
and SST. Since the Sun is closest to Earth in early January one expects
about a 6% higher radiation input. Using the same argument as given under
(8) one therefore expects a 1.5% increase in global surface temperature in
January or about 4 C. Well, your data base shows a global temperature
decrease of 9.1C/3.2 C for LAT/SST instead. Why is that? Does the larger
land mass in the Northern hemisphere cause that? Is the origin in other
geophysical effects?

Anyway, that's where I am at this point. I need a reality check and I
thought that you would be the best person to call on since I am using your
data compilations on the global temperatures. I would very much appreciate
receiving your reactions to all of this. Specific questions I have are:

(i) What is the cause of the, in my mind, peculiar annual variation in
global surface temperature (item 9 above)?
(ii) Has anyone else to your knowledge looked into similar relations
between solar activity and global surface temperatures?
(iii) what other mechanisms are being proposed to explain the global
surface warming since 1880?
(iv) Where do I find the best description related to the matters discussed

I would very much appreciate it if you would give me some of your time for
a response!

I copy Drs J.E. Hansen and P.D. Jones on this e-mail whose work was also
referred to in the NRC report. I would appreciate receiving comments from
them as well.

With best regards,

Jacques Beckers
National Solar Observatory/Sacramento Peak

Jacques M. Beckers
National Solar Observatory/NOAO
P.O. Box 62
Sunspot, NM 88349

Phone: +1 505 434-7020 (work)
+1 505 443-6005 (home Sunspot)
+1 312 932-9250 (home Chicago)
Fax: +1 505 434-7029 (work)
+1 505 443-6005 (home Sunspot)
+1 312 932-9251 (home Chicago)

Attachment Converted: "c:\eudora\attach\CARDS_58_98.doc"

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